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In 1999 Ricky Martin’s debut album hit number one on the Billboard Top 100 charts and also surpassed his other CD sales by selling almost 661,000 copies of his first English language album. That same year two major publishers printed biographies on him. (Griffiths, john 1of 5) Since his Grammy debut in 1999 he seems to have found success in every aspect of his career except in his personal life. Even with all the success he has reaped he unfortunately still suffers from the inability to keep a lasting partner in his life. This problem is seen through interpreting his music, where he expresses his loneliness and feelings about losing love. His loneliness has occurred from putting his career in front of his personal life due to his earliest obsession with having the full attention of his both his separated parents.
His need for attention did not start at the beginning of the divorce though, in contrary he received even more attention then normal because both his parents wanted to see him be as happy as possible. With his parents not communicating to each other regularly he was able to get things from one parent that the other previously disapproved of. (Furman 5-7)
One of the things he convinced his parents to let him do was acting. While watching other actors on TV he wished that he would one day do the same. He decided at the age of five that he wanted to entertain and his father supported him all the way. For his Father, seeing him perform in school plays and sing in his church choir only proved that letting his son act was the most reasonable thing to do. (Celebrating Hispanic Culture 1 of 4) “For Ricky being on-stage was synonymous with being loved. It was like having an even bigger family to adore and admire his every move and gesture.”(Furman 7)
But soon Ricky’s new and improved “bigger” family would become a littler bit smaller. A short while after his acting pursuit began both his parents remarried and five new stepbrothers and sisters followed. Since losing most of his parents full attention he dreamt day and night about being a huge star so that, once again, he could just not get the attention of his parents but also of the adoring public all around the world. (Furman 8-9)
He didn’t know that the public adoration was just around the corner though. At the tender age of twelve he tried out for a popular Spanish boy band names Menudo. Even though it took him three auditions before he finally was accepted in the band, he was confident he would make it the whole time. He spent the next five years doing non-stop work by touring, recording, and doing promotions. For those years he also had to keep ahead of his schoolwork by using hotel rooms as his school in his little free time. (Fantle & Johnson 82-84)
This hard work also continued into his adult life where he put out three solos Spanish language albums. These albums all included the same heavy touring schedule he practiced while in the group Menudo. In between touring he managed to do some acting in musical theater productions and later even starred in a popular Mexican TV show called “Mama Ama El Rock”. His popularity in Latin America made the United States take notice and soon enough he found himself in a starring role on the soap opera General Hospital for three seasons. (Furman 2 of 4)
During his time on “Mama Ama El Rock” he not only made strides in his career but also in his personal life when he met future girlfriend Rebecca De Alba. The two hit it off right away and spent every waking moment with each other, that is, until he released his next album “Vuelve”. A new set of tours let them only see each other once or twice every three months. With all the new stress on their relationship Ricky and Rebecca seemed to be going stronger then ever, so strong in fact that Ricky even shopped for an engagement ring. Just when things seemed to be perfect a moment in time would change Rebecca’s and his relationship forever. (King, Behind the Music)
The life changing moment would happen on the night of the 1999 Grammys. Ricky was scheduled to perform his international hit single “La Copa de Vida”. At the precise moment that Rebecca heard the audiences reaction to his performance she knew that they would not be able to stay together through the pending whirlwind of popularity. (King, Behind the Music) ‘”From the time he set his foot on the Grammy stage [Rebecca] knew that he would always put his career in front of [her]…and that’s okay! She understand[s] his ambitions.”’ (King, Behind the Music) Even though their breakup was mutual, both would continue to hold remorse for it. Out of the couple Ricky would express it the most through his music. Some of his most heart-felt songs have been inspired by their relationship.
One song that is closely related to their breakup is a song called “Vuelve”. The song’s title translated means “comeback”. Throughout the song Ricky sets a scenario of a couple that longs for the love they used to share but each knows that the relationship will never work. I think that Ricky is trying to communicate that he wanted to get Rebecca’s love back but he can’t have it anymore. Rebecca De Alba stated in this quote, “When I heard this song it was exactly our case. We wanted to be together but it just wasn’t possible.” That my interpretations are correct. (King, Behind the Music)
Another song about a lost love is “Come to Me” on his “Sound Loaded” CD. The lyric “This is not the way we started, you and I/ How was it that I lost my way/ Two souls drift apart without a word/ Where these the words I did not say”, suggests that Ricky feels remorse for a mistake he made during the course of a relationship that ended up splitting them apart. Another lyric suggests that he wants the love they shared back and he will do anything for it. The lyric is “I will fall for you no matter where it leaves/ I could walk this road again with you my love”. Critic, Rebecca Rankin, agrees with his inspiration for the song. “ The inspiration to this song can be described is that [Ricky] is trying to say sorry and really does not know what to do [to fix the relationship].” (Haney, Ricky Martin Video Collection)
The final song I interpreted to be about a relationship is “Nobody wants To Be Lonely” which is also on the “Sound Loaded” CD. I feel the song is about the emptiness he feels when no one is around. I think that the song is spurred from the same ambition that propelled him to superstardom: the need to have the attention of everyone. Without this attention I think that he feels alone in the world. Ricky himself acknowledged my interpretation when he said, in his CD Release special that aired on VH1, “ As soon as I got into a room I would turn on the TV, the Radio, the anything. I needed to have some sort of sound to keep me from thinking. I had personal problems at the time and it made me so afraid to be alone.”
In these songs Ricky clearly sheds light on his deepest fears and invites us into his personal life. With Ricky’s continuing success he decided to ravel to India to master the art of meditation so that he could learn to not be afraid of the silence any more but to use it to advantage. Hopefully with this new practice he will able himself to take the time out that is necessary to keep his personal life in order and release his crave for attention caused by his parents’ divorce.
“Celebrating Hispanic Heritage” Gale Group. Online. Available. http://www.gale.com/freresrc/chh/martinr.htm.
Fantle, David and Johnson, Thomas. Ricky Forever Gold Collector’s Series Entertainment Magazine 2000
Furman, Elina. Ricky Martin: An Unauthorized Biography New York St. John’s Paperbacks 1999
Griffiths, John. “Ricky Martin: Cross Appeal” Advocate 6 July 1999 Online. Available. http://www.findarticles.com/cf_l/m1589/1999_July_6/55095228/print.jhtml. March 1, 2001
“Ricky Martin: Video Collection” CD Release Special Prod. Eric Haney. Vh1. MTV Networks, New York 25 June 2000
“Ricky Martin” Behind The Music Prod. Jeff King. VH1. MTV Networks, New York 7 November 2000
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